Believe what you’re selling and people might actually buy it

During this all-too-short Thanksgiving break, I was reminded of the importance of believing in what you are selling.  This job is especially important for us as educators.  This needed reminder came over a hilarious conversation about MACs vs. PCs…

Over a delicious Thanksgiving meal, my family and I laughed about my mother’s new love for MAC products.  You see, my father has always detested Apple products, stating that they are overpriced and too closed-market.  He is a computer engineer, and as such, he wants more hardware for his buck.  However, recently my mother got an iPhone 4.  Immediately she was sold on all things Apple.  Like a fine mate courting her, her iPhone lured her into a deeper relationship with all things MAC.  Not surprisingly, she is now a proud owner of a MAC computer, much to the dismay of my father.

While I was home over the holidays, I had my boyfriend show her and my father all the ins and outs of a MAC.  You see, my boyfriend is one of the evangelical followers of MAC – proselytizing his beliefs to all who give him a moment of their time.  You know these people.  They proudly claim how they have “come to see the light” and would never go back to a dark, PC world.  It is if MAC is the savior they have come to find, and they hope they can save everyone around them.  The PC, of course, would the the devil in this scenario.  It sets out to make your life complicated and unenjoyable.

We laughed about his obsession with MACs, and I asked him to give me the sales pitch he would give customers at the MAC store he worked at so long ago.  I chuckled, amused at his passionate selling of the MAC.  You see, for him, owning a MAC would not only improve your ability to use the machine.  Oh no – it would bring your family together, as he gave accounts of his family having Christmas over iChat (simultaneously in California, Washington, Illinois, and Japan).  But he wasn’t lying.  This has happened many times, allowing his family to communicate on a daily basis.  (Apparently, before Skype and other tools, MACs were the only computers that had such wonderful video chatting abilities.)  As we wrapped up the conversation, he said something along the lines of, “You see – I believe in the product so I just tell them how great it’s been for me.”

“I believe in the product.”  This has me wondering, “How much do we, as educators, believe in the product we are selling?”  I mean really, passionately believe that providing a valuable education is worth every ounce of our time.  Do we believe that it not only gets us jobs we want, but it changes us as people, thinkers, and contributors to our community?  In addition, do I as a researcher really believe in what I’m selling?  Does the research I’m doing HAVE to be heard by all to help inform us about the relationship between religiosity and prejudice?  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the “sales pitch,” that we forget the most effective way to sell a product is to tell your buyer truly how much you believe in it.

Just think how our classrooms would change if we let students see how obsessed we are with learning.  Imagine how much easier it would be to write journal articles if you really believed in what you were selling.  Focus on your experience of the product, not on selling it to others.  THEN, and only then, will they really want to buy it.  So, as the semester winds down (or rather up) to a close, I am reminded of the products I sell.  Education and knowledge.  Those are products I believe can change lives.  Now I just need to go out and sell them.


About Megan Johnson Shen

I am a social psychologist graduating with my Ph.D. from Baylor University this May and moving to NYC this summer to start a new job as a postdoctoral researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in the Cancer Prevention and Control Department. I love the brain, human behavior, and anything to do with understanding them better. I love research and a good dinner party. Fine wine and cheese - I'm there. Interesting experimental data? I'll probably show for that too. View all posts by Megan Johnson Shen

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